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A January Paddle in Wheeler Refuge

Paddled the morning of January 8 with Rick E. and Joel V. at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. We put in at Arrowhead Landing and went up Beaver Strait to the Swancoat Rd. Bridge. As we paddled with the wind over the open water towards Beaver Strait, the waves were choppy and helped to push the boats along. At times my boat would vibrate kin to a sailboat when running with the wind. Once in the strait, the waves died down and it was an easy paddle up to the bridge.

Coming back, the open water was more than choppy; I'd say it was on the high side of chomp. In nautical terms, it would be called a "hard sea." We were paddling into the wind, over and through the white caps. It took 32 verses of the Volga Boatman Song to make it across. I was thankful to know that tune. It helped me to focus, dig in, establish a rhythm, and express what I was feeling.

Once home, I had tremendous energy. Tidied the house, did laundry, emptied the car, put EVERYTHING away… All-in-All, it was a good day.
- Submitted by Debra Wonder

Local Hiking Trail Society Activities

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Alabama Hiking Trail Society put in a full day of trail work in November in the Walls of Jericho. The members spent several hours trimming back growth, clearing blow-downs, and doing general maintenance on the main trail down into the Walls.  The group will begin working on the new long trail in the Walls in January and is looking for volunteers to help. Sierra Club members are especially encouraged to come out and help since the group sponsors frequent hikes in the Walls. No prior trail work experience is needed. 

The group meets in the Gander Mountain meeting room in the store on North Parkway; the next meeting date is Tuesday, February 15 at 7:00pm.

The next work day will be Saturday, January 29 when the group will be working on the new long trail section being put in the Walls. Please come out and lend a hand. When you are out enjoying a hike, remember that people were out before you building the trail and keeping it maintained for you to enjoy. You can be a part of this.

To find out more about the local trail work group, go to, or email Lucas Veverka at
from The Editor, North Alabama Sierra Club

Sierra Club Statement on Deadly Shooting in Tucson

Tucson, AZ -- The Sierra Club extends its condolences to the family and friends of the victims who were wounded or killed in the deadly shooting at a public meeting in Tucson recently. In this somber time, the Club offers its support to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, a longtime ally of the environmental movement and recipient of the Sierra Club's 2005 "Most Valuable Player" award from the Grand Canyon Chapter, recognizing her unwavering commitment to environmental protection.

Statement of Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr:

"Gabby is a strong environmental champion who cares deeply about Arizona. She has demonstrated these values consistently throughout her public service, including her support for protection of public lands, her promotion of renewable energy, and her brave stand in voting to address one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation – climate disruption. Her speedy return to Congress is important for Arizona and the country."

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:

"Congresswoman Giffords has long been a hero to Sierra Club members and supporters in Arizona for her courageous defense of the state's beautiful landscapes and her tireless efforts to ensure our nation's energy independence, clean air and water.

This unspeakable act of violence is a reminder of the foundational importance of civil discourse to American democracy, and what can happen when that principle is upended.

We wish Rep. Giffords a full and speedy recovery, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of all the victims of this tragedy."


February 2011

Sierra Club Outings

February is here already! Take a hike into the Bankhead Wilderness, see the waterfalls in the Talladega National Forest, help beat back that pesky honeysuckle, learn about photographing birds and flowers or take a picnic into Alabama's Black Belt or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll down the street! more>>>

New Alabama PSC Commissioner Cavanaugh's Position on Burning Coal Challenged

In an opinion piece published in several Alabama newspapers earlier this month, new Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh asserted that, among other things, "inexpensive electricity" will continue to be available using coal fired power plants, especially if the EPA is not permitted to regulate greenhouse gases from these plants.  Cavanaugh's article may be viewed by clicking:

In response, the following letter was sent to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News.

"Editor:  In her January 8 column, newly elected Alabama Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh suggested we should essentially maintain the status quo in the generation of electricity by employing coal-fired power plants.  This is apparently because coal seems to be relatively less expensive than other sources of energy.  However, when all costs associated with mining and burning coal are included (e.g., injuries and deaths of miners, asthma attacks, black lung disease, mercury contaminated fish, acid rain, coal ash hazards, polluted waters) alternative sources of energy are cheaper.  Developing, employing, and increasing efficiency of alternative sources of energy will create jobs, increase energy security, and improve public health in Alabama.  We should encourage this as opposed to continuing with the status quo."

Another member submitted a longer, but similar, letter to The Anniston Star.  There may be other letters of which we are unaware.  It is not too late for you to speak out.  You can even contact Commissioner Cavanaugh directly at:

Submitted by David Newton

Inaugural Project for 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama

By Carol Adams-Davis

As a first step in restoring the coast of Alabama and struggling coastal economies, nearly 500 volunteers from across the country started rebuilding oyster reefs along the delicate shoreline of Helen Wood Park, on the western shore of Mobile Bay, hoping to revive oyster beds that have been under assault for decades from overharvesting, coastal development, pollution, and most recently the BP oil spill.

The waters harbor much of the world's last remaining productive natural oyster beds, but the BP, April 20, oil well blowout dumped millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf and dealt yet another blow to this once bountiful habitat. more>>>

Environmental Groups Take Rosa Coal Mine Fight to Court of Appeals

Montgomery, AL – Two Alabama river groups are appealing an administrative law judge’s approval of a permit for a massive strip, auger and underground coal mine in Blount County.  The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Friends of Locust Fork River, filed the necessary papers this week with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals; only a few coal mine permits have ever been appealed to this level in Alabama.

The groups say the water pollution control permit for the Rosa Mine issued by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in October 2009 violates federal and state laws on multiple counts, and would fail utterly to protect water quality. The permit issued to MCoal is for a 3,255-acre coal mine that would allow more than 60 pollution discharge points into numerous feeder streams of the Locust Fork, a tributary of the Black Warrior River that is already on ADEM’s list of the most polluted streams in the state. more>>>

Urgent Alert:  Congressional Attack on Regulation of Greenhouse Gases Anticipated

At this writing and by all accounts, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to mount, very soon, a multi-pronged attack on the EPA's ability to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases.  Although the timetable is unclear, we anticipate proposals to:

Club members and friends are urged to be alert to developments, and to work diligently to oppose such measures.  One way to do this is to regularly consult the Club's website:

Also, you will probably be more motivated to act by visiting:

Submitted by David Newton

Cane Creek

A Recent Hike at Ruffner Mountain!

West Alabama Group at Ruffner Mountain Preserve on our December 2010 outing.

Report Cites Green Progress in Alabama

(from North Alabama Sierra Club) Rob Grant, Recreation Programs Manager for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, speaks glowingly of the amount of progress the state of Alabama has made in the new 2010 Alabama Green Progress Report.

According to Mr. Grant, "There's no better place to find a review of Alabama's eco-year than the new 2010 Green Progress Report, published by the Green Resource Center for Alabama. The report highlights some of the steps taken last year to make Alabama a more environmentally friendly place. The 12-page report contains about 50 items divided into six areas— government initiatives; recycling; habitat/species protection and restoration; green buildings, green communities; water conservation and quality; and parks, trails and greenways."

He goes on to say, "There's good news regarding the efforts of state agencies to increase the number of trails available in Alabama. The state now has a state trails commission, created this year by the legislature. The Alabama Tourism Department and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have joined forces to combine eight regional birding trails in the state into a single statewide network called the Alabama Birding Trails. And nine Alabama trails were officially designated this year as National Recreational Trails. There's much more at"
For the full report, go to 2010/12/Green-Progress-Report-20101.pdf

Meeting to Focus on Madison Development Plans

The City of Madison is holding a series of meetings about plans for future growth. These meetings are interactive public meetings which provide residents with the opportunity to share their vision of the future of Madison which is constantly developing. The second meeting, which will focus on the six Key Development Areas and the development of the Growth Plan, will be held at The Craig & Steven Hogan Family Center YMCA on Thursday, January 27th at 6:30 p.m. 
     Leading up to the meeting, we are conducting on-line surveys that are an integral part of the Growth Plan effort, one for each Key Development Area. Visit the project home page: or follow the links below. The main web site discusses the overall process for the development of a growth plan and includes updates on meetings and where the planning process stands. There is also a link which will allow you to receive regular emails about the planning.
Online Surveys
County Line Road
Downtown & Midtown
Highway 72 Corridor
Old Madison Pike
South Madison I-565 Corridor
Western Growth Area

Your voice is important so please fill out the survey for your area, attend the meeting and get involved.

from The North Alabama Sierra Club

AHTS 10th Annual Conference in Huntsville

The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will be holding a conference in Huntsville at the Monte Sano Lodge the weekend of February 25-27, 2011. Mark the date on your calendar now. The theme of the conference will be Building Trails to Our Past and the Future. There will be three tracks of speakers, presentations, hands-on demos, hikes, entertainment, food, prizes and a special key note speaker.
More details will be available later at

The Alabama Hiking Trail Society and its members are dedicated to planning, building, and maintaining safe hiking trails for all to enjoy and educating the public of the careful use and enjoyment of Alabama's great outdoors.

EEAA Gathering in the Longleaf Forest!

Did you know that the EEAA (Environmental Education Association of Alabama) Conference brochure is now available at  Check it out!  There will be field trips to: find fossilized sharks teeth, view the pitcher plants, explore the bogs, search for red-cockaded woodpeckers and more. Sessions include orienteering, how to adapt EE for people with special needs, brown pelicans and students engineering solutions for sediment. You won't want to miss our keynote speaker either - author Janisse Ray, who wrote Ecology of a Cracker Childhood,  will be speaking about place-based education and teaching a workshop using brainstorming, literature and writing prompts.  She will also do a book signing!

Need funds to attend? Don't forget members can apply for the Professional Development Funds. So recruit a friend and see you in April 14-16 at the Solon Dixon Center!

Mountains to the Gulf

Helping Teachers Make Connections Application
June 25 – July 2, 2011
Application deadline is April 29, 2011

workshop photo

Want a Dream Workshop this summer?  The Mountains to the Gulf Teacher workshop will be so much more than that!  It will be an adventure of a lifetime traveling across the state of Alabama for a week with these three amazing experts in their field: Dr. Jim Lacefield, Dr. Bill Deutsch and Dr. George Cline.  The workshop will take place June 25 – July 2, 2011.  The journey will begin at McDowell Environmental Center in the Bankhead National Forest and crisscross the state to places such as Little River Canyon, Cheaha State Park, the Coosa River and Dauphin Island Sea Lab.  ,.
We will travel the state to trace the watersheds, dig into the geology and discover what connects all Alabamians together.  You will g

The week is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) and Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education.  Other partners include Environmental Education Association of Alabama, McDowell Environmental Center, Alabama Water Watch, Jacksonville State University, Dauphin Island Sea Lab.  There is a $50 registration fee <<is this a true “fee” or is it a deposit?>> that will be returned if not chosen for the workshop.  But transportation, lodging, most meals, free classroom materials, and more learning than you can imagine are all covered under the grant! 
Only twenty lucky  teachers will selected for this adventure.  Don’t wait another day!  Send in your registration form today.  For more information contact Maggie Johnston at or call 205-387-1806.